Syrian Leader Bashar Assad Meets in Moscow with Putin

President Bashar Assad of Syria traveled unexpectedly to Moscow in what was his first known trip outside the country since the civil war broke out in 2011.

He met with his clearest and strongest ally Vladimir Putin the Russian leader.

The two leaders spoke of how the military operations inside Syria, which Moscow is the most recent and most powerful addition, must lead to a new political process.

The Tuesday visit reflects the renewed confidence from the embattled president of Syria after Iran and Russia dramatically escalated support recently through airstrikes by Moscow and Tehran ground troops.

An official from Syria confirmed on Wednesday that Assad was back in Damascus. The official indicated he was not authorized to give out that information but said Assad had returned home.

The conflict in Syria began in March of 2011 following a crackdown by the government on what were mainly peaceful protests against the rule of Assad.

The protests grew gradually to become an armed insurgency that was followed by a full-blown civil war that has taken the lives of more than 250,000 people.

Moscow has been a tradition ally of the Assad’s. It started its air campaign on September 30 against terrorist groups that were threatening Assad’s rule and Syria.

Russia became the most recent international power to increase its involvement in the conflict in Syria that has seen a surge in the number of different armed groups, including al-Qaeda and Islamic State.

Russia said it was only targeting militants. However, critics including the United States say that Moscow’s military intervention helps prop up Assad and likely will fan the overall violence.

A statement on the official Facebook page for the Syrian presidency said that Assad had met Putin in Moscow on Tuesday to talk about the continuation of military operations in Syria against terrorism.

The post also included photos of Assad smiling while shaking the hand of Putin. Television in Russia showed video footage of Assad and an adviser with Putin, and the defense and foreign minister from Moscow.

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